Last week, I wrote briefly about the economics of blogging. In that post I mentioned that we link to Amazon and make a very small amount of cash from their referral program. I caught a little bit of grief in the comments and a little more in my inbox for aligning with the evil behemoth. Despite the pittance involved, using the Amazon referral service to defray our costs has been a nagging source of guilt for years.
Had I been current in my blog reading at the time, I would have included a link to a post over at The Millions that explains why it makes sense for otherwise right-minded blogs to use Amazon’s referral program at the perceived expense of independent sellers. Even more interesting was The Millions’ subsequent post about how the Kindle stands to extinguish the goodwill that it has developed with book bloggers. Both posts are part of their three part series on the future of coverage that are among the most thoughtful essays on the subject that you’ll find anywhere.
Part 1 of the series is about the slow death of newspaper book coverage and where bloggers fit in to the picture. A sample:
As has been widely noted, one of the hidden pleasures of publishing work online is the ability to hear responses from readers, and sometimes to engage in debate. Reviewing online feels like a lively thing, where the Sunday newspaper supplements sometimes read, as a colleague put it, as the place “where book reviews go to die.”
Each essay is worthy of the New York Review of Books, whose style the authors emulate in their essays. This is blogging at its best. Do yourself a service and block off some time to read the whole series.
But back to the idea of book blogs and Amazon. It bears mentioning: the gang at The Millions certainly do support their local independent booksellers, on the ground, where it counts. They led a walking tour of independent booksellers in New York City last weekend that was reportedly a big success. I’d love to do something like that here in Atlanta, but I doubt there would be much interest in walking the miles between our remaining indies. Maybe a Marta tour of the Metro Atlanta indie book shops would be doable. Maybe.